Can You Use HDMI and Optical Audio at the Same Time?

Do you really need to choose between the HDMI and optical cables? Is there a way to use them both? If you keep asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place! We have the answer to every question you may have when it comes to this topic. So, if you want to know whether you can use HDMI and optical audio at the same time, you should get to the next section of this article right now!

So, Can You Use HDMI and Optical Audio at the Same Time?

There is no simple answer to this question. That’s because it really depends on the type of devices you use and their features. A lot of TVs will not let you connect both HDMI and optical cables at the same time, even if they have both of these ports available. In case you do connect both cables, they will automatically switch to the one you inserted last. Other TVs will allow you to choose which audio cable you want to use if you have both of them plugged in. But they still won’t let you use both at the same time.

On the other hand, some TVs have the ability to transmit signals through more than one cable. You will be able to insert both – optical and HDMI cord and have the audio and video signals coming through both of them. You’re not sure whether your TV will allow you to do that? You should check the instructions manual that came with your TV. Also, you can simply google it to verify.

However, you should be aware that there is no device that will reproduce two different audio signals at the same time. In other words, if you connect your TV and your soundbar using two cables (HDMI and optical), and you know that your TV can send signals through both connections at the same time, your soundbar can’t play both signals at the same time – you have to select one of the two connections. 

In some cases, if your TV allows you to send two audio signals at the same time, one cable needs to transmit audio while the other will pass on the video signal. So, you can use the optical cable for the audio signal and then insert HDMI, which will transmit video.

What Can You Do If You Want to Use Both HDMI and Optical Audio at the Same Time?

In case you really need to have both HDMI and optical audio working at the same time, and your TV doesn’t allow you to have both outputs at the same time, there is still something you can do. The best solution for you will be getting an audio extractor.

In most cases, the audio extractor will allow you to use a separate device to transmit the sound without messing up the quality of the video the HDMI cable transmits. Therefore, this device will give you the option to play audio via a different device than what you’re using to play the video. It is especially useful in case your playback device cannot play audio for some reason or when you want to send audio to two different speaker systems at the same time. The audio extractor is also great for those who want to convert the HDMI digital signal into an analog signal.

ViewHD Prosumer 4×1 HDMI Audio Extractor

ViewHD Prosumer 4x1 HDMI Audio Extractor

If the format of the incoming audio signal is compatible with optical connection (Dolby Digital 5.1, for example), both HDMI outputs and optical outputs will be active at the same time

You can find many great audio extractors online. We recommend that you check out the reviews before making your purchase. In addition, you should also carefully look into the specifications of the product. That way, you’ll ensure it will give you the ability to pass on the type of signal that you need.

HDMI vs. Optical – Which One Should You Choose?

If this article taught you anything, it’s that you shouldn’t make things too complicated for yourself. Of course, unless you have a very good reason for that. So, this section is dedicated to everyone who realized that connecting both optical and HDMI cables is not absolutely necessary for their needs. Thus, they will need to choose which one of these cables they should use in the future.

HDMI vs Optical

Basic Info about HDMI and Optical Cables

As you probably know already, both HDMI and optical cables pass on the audio signals from one device to another. However, the main difference is that the optical cable cannot transmit video. That will likely be a deal-breaker for some users. So, if you need a cable that will transmit both audio and video, HDMI is the way to go.

Optical cables are made of fiber and transmit the audio signal via light. In case you worry about the external interference, you’ll be happy to know that optical cables are pretty immune to any kind of outside impinging. But they come with a big downside. As an older invention, they have a pretty limited capacity. So, they will not be able to pass on the audio signal in the highest possible quality.

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On the other hand, an HDMI cable is made out of copper, which is cheap and pretty easy to make. It has the ability to transmit high-res audio. That is why most experts and AV enthusiasts prefer this type of connection. 

The Use of the HDMI and Optical Audio at the Same Time – Conclusion

As you’ve seen, there isn’t an easy way to use both HDMI and optical audio simultaneously. Still, if you need to pass on a video signal through one of these and the audio through another, you have a few options you can try out. In most cases, you will have to add another device to your setup (HDMI audio extractor), especially for TVs that will not allow you to use both of these cables at the same time.

In case you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a way to get audio output from HDMI and optical connection at the same time, you can always choose the one you need more and leave the other cable to be the alternative in case something goes wrong with the first one. We also made sure to dedicate a part of our article to helping you choose the best cable for your needs.

Did you find this article helpful? If you did, you would be happy to know that we have more useful articles on our website. So, you should definitely check them out!

2 Comments

  • Fred Bacher

    I found that if I connect my soundbar thru HDMI (eArc/arc) port on tv then the headphone connection will not work on my new sony xr65CJ. It worked on the older sony bravia I have so this new one is going back to Costco. I don’t know why they disabled this feature or if other TV’s with HDMI 2.1 have this issue as well. I did try the optical port and that didn’t work either. I can get it to work if I connect the soundbar with an optical connection but then I have to turn on the soundbar with it’s remote everytime I want to watch TV. I have not tried bluetooth but that’s next.

  • R Muthukumar

    Useful information that even the technician who came to install my new Home Theatre recently didn’t know about!
    Thank you!

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